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Wide Open Spaces: Beyond Paint-by-Number Christianity by Jim Palmer



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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Jim Palmer

Saturday, November 20

We love because he first loved us.
—John 4:19


We recently decided to adopt a dog from our local animal shelter. On one of our visits there, we hit it off with a particular gal who helped us get the dogs in and out of their cages so we could check them out. 

The girl didn't have very good social skills and seemed to be a loner type. She was much more comfortable with animals than humans. At first our interaction was a little awkward, but then it sort of smoothed out. She seemed to know quite a few details about each dog, which was amazing considering the number of dogs at the shelter.

My wife, Pam, daughter, Jesse, and I were sitting on a bench in the shelter deliberating over the dogs when the young woman asked what concerns we had. One thing led to the next, and she shared a story of rescuing an injured stray she had come upon one night along a deserted country road. 

She took the dog home and nursed it back to health. She spoke of how thankful she was to have found the dog and how much she loved him. Her story unleashed a torrent of emotion within me that was suddenly difficult to contain. It was as if I suddenly caught a glimpse of her heart.

I am convinced that love never returns void. Every act of love is like a stone tossed into the sea of humanity, creating ever-widening circles of eternal significance. God reveals himself within these circles. The scriptures say, “God is love,” and so it would follow that no act of love is possible outside of God. Perhaps contained in every expression of love—no matter how small or simple it might seem—is a message from God to the heart of humankind.

I always wanted to do great things for God—something really huge that the world would notice and say, "Wow! Hey everybody, look at this thing Jim did for God!" Certainly we each must do whatever the Spirit calls us to do, and, in fact, that something could be  huge. 

But I have come to recognize the value of “small” expressions of love that most will never see. Only a handful of people will ever know this girl’s love and care for abandoned animals. Only the eyes of God saw her stop on that deserted road to help a lone dog.

Why did she do it? She couldn’t help it. She was created in the image of God, who is love. When she pulled her car over to the side of the road on that cold night, God smiled. When she shared the story with us, God was speaking to my heart. The love of God is a rescuing love. One dark night along the paths of life, I was hurting and abandoned on the side of my own road. Suddenly I looked up and the hand of God was reaching down.

God, let me be love today.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.